With the goal of boosting its young adult business, publisher Scholastic Books recently signed a licensing agreement with Teen magazine. Under the terms of the multiyear book deal it inked with Teen owner Petersen Publishing in late October, Scholastic will adapt six nonfiction titles from the journals of real-life students who are about to enter their last year of high school. All of the titles will be marketed under the Teen brand, with portions of the stories appearing in serialized form in the magazine beginning in August. Initially, Scholastic will be offering the books through its Teen-themed home continuities program-a party pack of goodies, distributed via Scholastic’s book clubs, that features jewelry, trinkets and a copy of the magazine. The continuities program (US$4.95) containing the first book will make its way to consumers in the first quarter of this year. Scholastic plans to ship the books, which retail for US$3.95 each, to stores beginning in September.
While Scholastic has established itself as a category killer in the middle grade genre with series like the Babysitters Club, Goosebumps and Animorphs, it has yet to establish a foothold in the young adult category. Currently, YA business accounts for only 10% of the company’s overall sales, says Scholastic publisher Jean Feiwell, although, she adds, the company has published only a few titles that are considered to be young adult. Trying to attract girls in the 13 to 15 demo has become a problem for most book publishers, says Feiwell, mainly because of the popularity of other media forms (like magazines and the Internet) with this age group.
‘I don’t think the traditional ways of publishing and bookselling are capturing the [Young Adult] audience any more,’ says Feiwell. ‘As publishers, we were used to young readers coming to us. Now, we have to go where they are. If they’re not walking into a Barnes and Noble or a Borders in the numbers that we know are out there, then the question becomes, how can we drive them in there? How can we attract them to what we’re doing?’
Associating itself with cool formats and cool properties has become the answer. To be on the safe side, Scholastic has employed a similar strategy with its preteen business. Along with the Teen deal, it also entered into a licensing agreement with Petersen for its All About You property, a monthly magazine geared to the interests of girls ages nine to 13. Scholastic will create and market 10 nonfiction titles, which will be distributed beginning this month, first through an All About You home continuities program, and then individually at retail a year later.
Last summer, Scholastic also signed multiyear book deals with hip girl-driven interactive media companies deliA and Purple Moon. This fall, it will release a sex-and-health guidebook for teen girls called Deal With It… that draws on the content of deliA’s Web site for girls, gURL.com. At the same, it is also putting out the first two books in the Whistling Pines series, based on Purple Moon’s interactive character Rockett Movado.